Manorfield Primary School

About P4C at Manorfield

 What is Philosophy for Children? 

P4C is an approach to teaching and learning that was founded by Professor Matthew Lipman in the 1980s.  It is practised in over 60 countries worldwide and promoted in the UK by SAPERE.


In March 2016, Manorfield Primary School became the first school in Tower Hamlets to achieve the SAPERE Gold Award in recognition of its commitment to and outstanding teaching of P4C. We were recently featured on the BBC Series World Hacks: ‘Teaching Kids To Think’.


At Manorfield, children are taught how to create their own philosophical questions from a stimulus such as a story, poem, short film, object or image. These are often, but not always, linked to curriculum topics. Children choose one question that becomes the focus of a philosophical enquiry or dialogue and the teacher, as facilitator, supports the children in their thinking, reasoning and questioning.


At Manorfield, every class participates in philosophical enquiries once a week. We focus on delivering cycles of enquiry which allow children to explore concepts in greater depth and to develop their skills and understanding over time:


  • Key Stage 2: 1 hour long
  • Key Stage 1: 45 minutes – 1 hour
  • Reception: building up to 45 minutes long in the final term
  • Nursery: thinking skills activities are planned throughout the week, so that all children participate on at least a weekly basis. By the end of the Nursery, children will have participated in short small group and whole class P4C sessions.


Why do we do P4C?

As well as the measured impact P4C has on reading, writing and maths, we particularly value Philosophy for Children for its impact on wider outcomes such as confidence, patience and self-esteem. At Manorfield, we help children to develop a repertoire of transferable thinking skills known as the ‘4Cs’ (critical, caring, creative and collaborative thinking) which develop their skills as life-long learners. For a detailed research brochure, click here.


Development of skills from EYFS to Year 6



  • I can tell people when I disagree, in a kind way
  • I can make sure others in my group hear what I say
  • I can talk about my ideas to the rest of my group
  • I can listen carefully to the rest of my group and tell someone else what they said
  • I can answer a question that starts with the word ‘how’ or ‘why’
  • I can say how things might connect
  • I know that it is okay for others to disagree with me sometimes
  • I can say what is the same and what is different about lots of things


Years 1 and 2

  • I can make connections between ideas
  • I can say how some things are the same and different
  • I can suggest/evaluate different possibilities
  • I can ask questions about a stimulus,
  • I can give reasons for their ideas that are supported with evidence
  • I can suggest what might happen if…
  • I can show that they've been listening to what others are saying
  • I can wait their turn
  • I can speak politely to adults and peers
  • I can talk in a friendly way with peers
  • I can agree and disagree respectfully and politely
  • I can build on others' ideas
  • I can be an effective member in small group tasks


Years 3 and 4

  • I can explain how ideas are linked
  • I can explore a range of different possibilities
  • I can suggest new and alternative ideas
  • I can identify the 'big ideas' in a stimulus and ask questions related to these
  • I can draw upon evidence and their own experiences to support their ideas and suggest reasoned conclusions
  • I can understand how others feel
  • I can show an interest in what others are saying
  • I can encourage others to join in
  • I can support and build on the ideas of others
  • I can keep focused on the matter at hand
  • I can demonstrate a willingness to illustrate ideas with my own experiences


Years 5 and 6

  • I can identify associated concepts, explaining their connections and relevance
  • I can evaluate in some detail the range of possibilities
  • I can ask questions of each other that support the progress of the enquiry
  • I can evaluate the evidence offered by themselves and others
  • I can offer/evaluate a range of reasoned conclusions
  • I can air feelings in a way that is supportive to the enquiry,
  • I can encourage others to contribute
  • I can summarise the progress of the enquiry

Year 6 P4C Project